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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Washtenaw Literacy

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult Education, Education, Ethnic & Immigrant Centers, Human Services, Immigration, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: Washtenaw Literacy was founded in 1971 by a small group of volunteers who wanted to help other adults learn to read. Today, our organization has grown to serve over 1,500 adults each year in our one-on-one and group tutoring programs. We remain the only organization in Washtenaw county that provides free, customized one-on-one tutoring to adults in reading and writing or English as a second language.

Programs: Recruitment, training, placement & support of adult non-readers and volunteer tutors. The majority of the services are performed by volunteers. The estimated value of these services is 1,568,182.

Community Stories

23 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Pat_57

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a tutor with Washtenaw Literacy for 3 1/2 years both as an ESL tutor and, most recently, as a tutor in the literacy program with the county jail. Washtenaw Literacy is excellent in its preparation and continued education for its volunteers. It makes it nice for those of us who are retired and are undertaking a new role that may be different from our life long career. I especially like the fact that Washtenaw Literacy truly engages in meeting the needs of those with the most need.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a tutor for a little over eight months. The tutoring that I did with my first learner, who had a brain injury, was challenging, but I learned a lot and had a sense of having helped the learner make progress. I had great support from staff, beyond my initial training and some additional workshops. After six months that tutoring relationship ended by mutual agreement, and for the past two months I've been part of Washtenaw Literacy's Washtenaw County Jail program. Again, I'm learning a lot and most definitely having the enjoyable and rewarding sense of making a difference in the lives of the learners. The experience has touched me deeply. I would highly recommend becoming a volunteer tutor (or a volunteer in some other capacity), or contributing to the organization. It is a no-nonsense, lean and mean, friendly and helpful organization that is truly making a difference in our community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for Washtenaw Literacy for about two and a half years, working with ESL learners in a drop-in group, and with basic learners, doing both GED preparation and basic math and reading literacy. As a retiree, I find this a valuable use of my time in a way that makes a big difference in my life and the lives of the people I serve.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with WL since 2006. I have had the honor of helping learners become American citizens, learn to read, learn to do basic math, and learn to speak English. The staff is amazing, and I really enjoy working with them. I have enjoyed being a mentor and working with other tutors as well. I love WL because I can make a difference in the lives of others, and also because I'm needed, wanted, and valued. I get to teach people how to do things I take for granted, like reading my bills, filling out forms, and asking questions at the doctor. While I'm teaching, I'm also learning, about my community, my country, and the world. Deciding to join WL is the best choice I've ever made.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer tutor with Washtenaw Literacy since 1997, working both with individual ESL learners and with groups. My first one-on-one learner earned her U.S. citizenship on the second try when she was about 80 years old. One of my current ESL learners, an extremely focused self-starter, has made incredible strides in speaking and comprehension in the past several years. Working with ESL groups teaches me as much as I teach them. The generous and timely support that volunteer tutors and mentors receive from the Washtenaw Literacy staff creates a core of faithful volunteers who continue their association with the organization year after year. The excellent 15-hour training for new tutors, which WL devised and continues to refine, plus workshops on teaching methods, lesson planning, learning styles, local resources, etc., make them the premier literacy agency in Michigan.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with WL for many years, and have found it to be the most rewarding volunteer experience I've had. The number of people who benefit from the organization, as well as the vast range of their needs and abilities, is amazing. Working with ESL learners, I've encountered everything from post-doctoral students to illiterate folks from depressed countries, and without exception all are provided the best possible learning situation as well as complete respect. Tutors and staff are exceptional, dedicated people.

1 Carol179

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a tutor with Washtenaw Literacy for 6 years. In 2008 I assisted my 50 year old learner to prepare to vote in a presidential election. This was the first time in his life that he had ever voted, because he had never been able to read the ballot. He was so happy and proud to be able to participate in this basic civil right. An adult who cannot read is restricted from participating in so many everyday activities that most of us take for granted. Washtenaw Literacy is an incredible organization, using hundreds of volunteer tutors to reach out and make a difference in thousands of lives. The training, staff support and mentoring services provided to tutors are outstanding. The staff are continuously providing educational opportunities and encouraging tutors to grow and be the most effective possible. Because of their dedication and superb use of resources, this organization has made great strides in decreasing illiteracy in Washtenaw County one learner at a time.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

This is a great organization that has served hundreds of learners over the years. It not only helps adults with basic literacy skills but also has a large ESL program. The organization has remained strong through hard economic times when funding has been scarce. It utilizes it's large tutor base well especially when times are tough. It provides a wonderful traing program, great tutor support and continuing education for it's tutors.


.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Washtenaw Literacy changes lives by increasing adults' abilities to read and write. I've been a volunteer tutor with Washtenaw Literacy for 4 years - as a tutor, you get to work directly with learners and see the changes in their abilities. The staff goes above and beyond to support volunteers, including offering development and leadership opportunities.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Washtenaw Literacy fosters an exceptional volunteer experience. The work (helping adults learn to read and write English) is so important, and a unique service. I see every week the direct life-changing impact that learning how to read has for learners. Moreover, the agency keeps volunteers connected with frequent training and social opportunities.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I became a tutor with Washtenaw Literacy, I was and still am thoroughly impressed with the training provided to new and seasoned tutors. The organization constantly provides tools and resources relevant to learners and the actual environment we live in. It is also a pleasure when you see other tutors jump in to help their fellow tutors. The relationships built and meeting new people is a secondary benefit to helping someone improve their literacy skills.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a tutor with Washtenaw Literacy for 10 years. I usually tutor three days a week helping Literacy learners improve their reading and writing skills and/or obtain their GED and also helping ESL learners acquire the English skills necessary to become productive residents/citizens. I used to tutor for Literacy agencies in Chicago and in Plymouth, MI. Washtenaw Literacy has been the most organized and most effective organization of all. Their training program is excellent and provides the tutors with all the tools necessary. I find Washtenaw Literacy's staff exceptional. They are very helpful in all regards; they are receptive to new ideas and continuously strive for improvements. The programs are learner oriented. All the learners I have known over the years have been very happy with the program. Tutoring for Washtenaw Literacy has been the most rewarding experience for me, and I plan to tutor for this organization for many more years.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have tutored with them since 2008, subsequently became a mentor, and now I occasionally am asked to help with training of tutors. There are something over 800 of us volunteers, and the professional (paid) staff is, I believe, 4. Yet the organization works quite well. EVERYONE is dedicated, and hard-working, and smart. ALL the effort is directed toward the learners, their needs and their goals. My learners, in terms of their educations, have ranged from a PhD from Korea who badly needed English conversation skills, to native English speakers lacking a high school diploma and needing the credential and the supporting skills to get a job. All these learners want independence, success in work, and a sense of community. It is such a treat to work with them---definitely the most fun I've ever had at work.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I retired after 40 years working at the University of Michigan and immediately volunteered with Washtenaw Literacy. It is about the best thing I ever did. The agency has a small paid staff and then hundreds of volunteers. The staff train everybody and then rely on experienced tutors to help the new ones. The staff provide continuing professional development opportunities, and the collaboration between volunteers and staff is wonderful. I tutor both ESL and native-English-user folks, and on either side they can be young adults or senior citizens or anyone in between. Many of us have had the experience of a learner saying "you have changed my life." What could be more satisfying than that?

Laurie24

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I tried to volunteer with other orgs in the area doing the same work, but I found the people involved with WL to be more dedicated to volunteers and their learners. Not only did they entice me w/ (free) training throughout the years, but also as a great support system resource-wise & socially as well. The learners involved with WL are invested in the community, not just passing through necessarily like some of the other orgs. So to have an organization available in the capacity that WL is run, makes it a very enriching experience for both volunteer and learner. I continue to help as an ESL group coordinator and Auction committee member.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Not only do I volunteer, I donate and help recruit/advertise as well. I started about 4 or 5 yrs. ago with tutoring ESL after trying some other local language schools. I just didn't find the same vibe, training & learner participation that I have with Washtenaw Literacy. Despite the great training they put me through, I also applaud how they run the nonprofit with such a small paid staff. They are very eager to be there for us, and really appreciate what our volunteers do to help to keep us going! The often have tutor socials, workshops, picnics, a recognition ceremony, a mentor program (which I'm now a part of!) and of course wonderful resources to use with our learners! Our fundraisers are exciting and give volunteers and learners the opportunity to really delve into the operation and gain experience - and they're fun! They deserve any and all recognition possible!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone at Washtenaw Literacy, staff and volunteers, show tremendous dedication and commitment to the learners in the area. Their training programs are outstanding and their fundraisers are fun and successful. They use their resources in an extremely fiscally responsible way. The organization touches the lives of hundreds of people every year, enriching all those who serve and are served.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Washtenaw Literacy is a great organization. It offers free tutoring in basic literacy as well as in learning English as a Second Language. I have been a tutor in both areas and have seen first hand what a difference these services have made in the learners lives They have increased confidence, self esteem and job prospects. The staff is dedicated and work many extra hours in support of both learners and tutors. They also provide ongoing training to upgrade tutor skills.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Washtenaw Literacy provides an essential service to the learners it serves - free tutoring for adults in reading, writing, and/or speaking English. As a tutor, I have seen first hand how much difference it makes in someone's life to become more independent through improved reading skills. Washtenaw Literacy also provides a great experience for volunteers. There are many ways to help - I have tutored one-on-one, worked with small groups, mentored other tutors, and helped at programs. The training for tutors is thorough and practical, and there are many opportunities to continue to learn more through updated workshops. The staff are very professional, and they have helped me find different ways to volunteer when I needed to change my schedule. I have always felt that my time and contributions have been valued by Washtenaw Literacy.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer tutor with Washtenaw Literacy for 3 1/2 years, it's a tremendous experience. As a voracious reader and wanting to support local a philanthropic agency; it's been the perfect fit. We touch so many lives, connecting people from differing socio-economic and educational strata. I have learned so much more about my community and the people who live here that I would never have known otherwise. Washtenaw Literacy provides excellent training and resources to the tutors, and always has a waiting list of potential learners. I'm proud to be affiliated with such a wonderful organization.

Erica15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy is the best part of my week. I tutor English as a Second Language and look forward to each Wednesday night, when I get to help my learner improve her language skills while also teaching her about American culture. Washtenaw Literacy offers an opportunity to volunteer in a meaningful way on an ongoing basis while working in a fun, creative and thoughtful setting. The organization's staff is communicative, supportive and passionate about increasing literacy in our community. Whether you're a learner or someone who would like to volunteer, I would highly recommend becoming involved with this nonprofit organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Washtenaw Literacy does a great service to the people of Washtenaw County, Michigan. Not only do they help the many adults in the county who struggle to read at the level of a high-school graduate, they also help the many non-native speakers and their families who come here attracted by the excellent universities here. Volunteering for them is a pleasure. They provide outstanding training and support to volunteers. In fact they have the most supportive people of any organization I know -- with the possible exception of my family!

2 Michael120

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In doing some surfing I came across a startling statistic. 27000 (twenty seven thousand) people do not read or write at grade level. UM, EMU, WCC, MSU, WSU, etc... are all within an hour's driving distance. WL provides free service to anyone. Basic Literacy, GED prep, job applications, newspapers, and ordinary computer user skills are available. I signed up as a BL tutor. WL provides a fantastic volunteer support network of training, retraining, and information sharing. Tutors are assigned a mentor as a guide through the process of helping individuals. It is said that doing something for someone that they can never repay is the best deed. WL has given me the opportunity to prove the truth of that sentiment.